Paul Allen’s death leaves many questions around what’s likely the largest estate in Washington history

The Experience Music Project, known as MoPOP since 2016, was founded by Paul Allen along with his sister, Jody, in 2000. Frank Gehry designed the building. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)
The empire Paul Allen built in the 35 years after he left Microsoft has few equals in size or in local impact on the city and region that he loved.
Even as commemoration plans take shape, questions are swirling around his immense fortune, estimated to be more than $20 billion, and the long-term future of the many major cultural, scientific and commercial landmarks he left in Seattle and beyond.
The disposition of what is likely to be the largest estate in Washington history will help determine the future of local museums and arts festivals, brain science and artificial intelligence research institutes, sports teams and an enormous real-estate portfolio. Allen’s philanthropic commitments also present a potentially trans-formative infusion of funding to the eventual recipients. The Internal Revenue Service, too, will be poring over it all.
While Allen’s wishes can be interpreted from his statements and actions — pledging in 2010 to give away the majority of his wealth, for example — the details of how they will be executed have not yet been made public. Indeed, they may never be, given the privacy protections in estate law.
There is familial continuity built in to the structure of Allen’s empire. Many of his post-Microsoft endeavors were carried out in close collaboration with or led by his sister, Jody Allen. He was not married and had no children.
 
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Paul Allen’s death leaves many questions around what’s likely the largest estate in Washington history

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